* Oil reserves 520 mln tonnes, gas reserves 95 bcm
* Annual oil output set to peak at 25.5 mln tonnes
* Will boost Russian oil supplies to China
(Recasts, adds quote, details, background)
By Katya Golubkova
VANKOR OILFIELD, Russia, Aug 21 Russia launched
a major new oilfield in the Arctic on Friday that will allow the
world's second-largest crude exporter to revive flagging output
and carve a greater share of China's growing energy market.
The Vankor field will supply state-controlled oil leader
Rosneft (ROSN.MM) with 25.5 million tonnes, or 510,000 barrels
per day, of oil when it reaches peak production in 2014. This is
equivalent to nearly one-quarter of the firm's output last year.
"A new oil and gas province will be established here in the
near future," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a ceremony
to launch the field, over 100 km (63 miles) north of the Arctic
Circle, addressing several billionaire oil industry executives.
Russia expects oil production to recover this year after
falling for the first time in a decade in 2008. Putin said
Vankor, which is being launched after several delays, would feed
into pipelines under construction to China and the Baltic Sea.
China has agreed to lend $15 billion to Rosneft and another
$10 billion to oil pipeline monopoly Transneft (TRNF_p.MM) in
exchange for supplies of 300 million tonnes of Russian oil over
two decades, a large part of which will originate from Vankor.
Crude will be delivered from Vankor through a 556-km spur to
Transneft's nationwide pipeline system. Deliveries to China are
scheduled to begin from 2011 via the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean
pipeline and a further link to the Chinese border.
Rosneft said in a statement that oil from Vankor, which it
acquired in 2003, would also feed a major new petrochemical
complex the company is planning to build in Russia's Far East.
Putin said the field would also supply some crude to the
BTS-2 pipeline, a route now under construction to bypass Belarus
in delivering Russian oil to the Baltic port of Ust-Luga. This
route is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2012.
Rosneft is responsible for over one-fifth of Russia's oil
output and has grown quicker than any other Russian oil company
in the past few years after acquiring assets of the bankrupt oil
firm YUKOS and investing in major new fields.
The company said Vankor, in the north of the Siberian region
of Krasnoyarsk, held 520 million tonnes, or 3.8 billion barrels,
of oil reserves and 95 billion cubic metres of gas. This year,
the field will produce 3 million tonnes, or 22 million barrels.
Declining or stagnating output has been of grave concern to
Putin's government, which depends heavily on revenues from oil
Analysts say initial production at Vankor, added to output
from new fields launched by rivals LUKOIL (LKOH.MM) and TNK-BP
TNBPI.RTS, will allow Russian oil output to return to growth
in 2009 after falling 0.7 percent to 488 million tonnes in 2008.
"The first seven months showed 0.8 percent output growth in
Russia, and with Vankor's 3 million tonnes, it's 0.5 percent
more," said Valery Nesterov, oil analyst at Troika Dialog.
"This means that Russian output will grow by about 1 percent
compared with last year."
(Additional reporting and writing by Vladimir Soldatkin and
Robin Paxton; Editing by Keiron Henderson)